Beyond Literature Landscapes—Good Versus Evil

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column focuses on a well-known universal literary theme, namely the struggle between good and evil, right versus wrong, or hero versus villain.


Some famous works related to this literary theme include The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien, Paradise Lost by John Milton, and The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.


These novels are set in the Pacific Ocean, Imperial Russia, Middle Earth, as well as heaven and hell in the Christian context.


Many of these works take place in the distance past, as well as the 18 and 19th centuries.


These novels may be of interest to AU learners who would like to grapple with philosophical questions and universal themes that have confounded humanity from the beginning of time.  Indeed, the problem of good versus evil can be found in literary works throughout the generations and across borders.  Although this literary theme can, at times, feel a bit cliché or trope-like, it remains profoundly impactful—and a topic appealing to a variety of readers.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to good versus evil are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in PHIL 255: Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Society, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “introduces you to philosophy by exploring and analyzing leading ethical theories and the application of those theories to matters of social concern.”  (No prerequisites are required for this course).

Students can also consider PHIL 240: Ancient Philosophy: The Rise of Reason in a Mythic World, another junior-level three-credit course, which “follows a tension between two sides of human existence: one turned inward toward human rationality, and the other turned outward toward the possibility of transcendence.”  (No prerequisites are required although a previous PHIL course is recommended).  Happy reading!

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